/ 15 September 2023

ActionSA comes down hard on BEE, migration

Actionsa Holds Inaugural Policy Conference In Boksburg: Day 01
What’s new? ActionSA president Herman Mashaba opens the party’s first policy conference, where the participants rejected his proposal to bring back the death penalty. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla/Gallo Images

ActionSA has made bold plans to repeal the contentious Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, proposing to replace it instead with new policies.

The party held its inaugural three-day policy conference this week to thrash out some of its key positions that will feed into a manifesto to attract voters in next year’s elections. 

ActionSA resolved that black economic empowerment (BEE) has, in its current form, failed to uplift black South Africans and there is a need to develop innovative and viable solutions to address persistent inequality in the country.

Party leader Herman Mashaba told delegates that ActionSA would establish an opportunity fund with the help of the private sector to invest exclusively in grassroots opportunity generation among black, coloured and Indian communities who have been historically disadvantaged.

ActionSA’s stance follows that of the Democratic Alliance, which rejected BEE in 2018, claiming the policy was not working.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has, in the past, defended the ANC policy.  

ActionSA chief director of governance Nasiphi Moyo said the party’s objective was to ensure that every South African, regardless of their circumstances, had access to equal opportunities for success.

“This can be achieved by knocking down human development barriers propelled by the apartheid government’s discriminatory policies. As an organisation, we support black empowerment,” Moyo said, adding that by “black, we are referring to all racial groups that were discriminated against by the apartheid government. This includes coloured people, Indians, and Asians”.

Mashaba, who has often been accused of expressing xenophobic views towards African immigrants, said the current immigration regime made it hard for people to come to the country legally. He, however, acknowledged that South Africa had been built by migrants and still needed to attract skilled external labour to prosper.

“But people must come here legally and, when they’re here, they must respect our laws,” he added.

“We will deport you immediately if you break our rules under an ActionSA government. We are not going to play games with anyone. Immigration is one of those subjects that I’m unapologetic about.”

He said ActionSA believed people seeking refuge in South Africa from “despotic countries” should be assisted, but only when they had credible documentation from their home countries. 

Mashaba said there was a strong push by party “extremists” who wanted stricter immigration laws, pitting them against those opposed to this suggestion.

“On the one hand, there are those who want to ignore our borders or call anyone xenophobic for raising the issue of the failed implementation of our immigration regulations and our porous borders.

“On the other side, there are those who are wilfully blind to the benefits that regulated immigration can offer our country, and act like quasi-law enforcement officials by unlawfully raiding businesses and detain[ing] people,” he said. 

ActionSA Limpopo leader Selo Lediga said that immigration was a big talking point for the province because “many immigrants use the Limpopo border to gain entry to the country”.

Lediga called for a change in policing systems in the country and the deployment of the South African National Defence Force to secure borders.

“Limpopo is the entry point of people from SADC [Southern African Development Community]. So the failure of the current government to manage our borders means that all these people that you see here, actually have to pass through Limpopo,” he said.

John Moodey, the party’s senate member, said ActionSA would pass stringent laws to combat lawlessness.

“Just like we cannot tolerate South Africans who break our laws, we must equally not tolerate people from other countries who break our laws,” he said.

“It is time to take a harsher stance on criminals after they have been prosecuted as well. Our communities are under siege from hardened criminals and syndicates who have no regard for human life or dignity, yet our penal laws favour these very criminals and do little to deter their actions.”

The party added in its policy proposals that there was a need to reaffirm a commitment to democratic principles and peaceful resolution to conflict in the country’s foreign affairs stance.

 “ActionSA affirms that respecting the borders and autonomy of neighbouring countries is essential for regional stability and development,” it said.

It added that it would continue to advocate  for a fair multilateral system that ensures equitable representation and power-sharing between countries from the global north and south. 

“Through diplomacy, south-south cooperation, and alliance-building, South Africa seeks to influence global decision-making processes and advocate for reforms that address the imbalances in the international system.”

The party also adopted a policy on a universal basic income, the expansion of social welfare grants and a one-year of voluntary vocation service for school leavers. Mashaba said this was meant to help people who left high school with no prospects of studying further or finding a job.

“This reality is true for too many young people and ActionSA must provide young people with the place to learn skills, gain experience, and drive the meaning that comes with work and productivity,” Mashaba said.

The party also adopted a policy that would relax visa requirements to allow qualified migrants to enter the country, including expanding the list of countries whose citizens can visit South Africa without visas and implementing e-visas and visa-on-arrival programmes.

ActionSA however rejected its leader’s strong opinion in favour of the death penalty, arguing that it was in breach of human rights.